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Retrospective: Dracula Daily

This both is and isn’t a review. Yes, I’m among those who read Dracula via the Dracula Daily newsletter and I had a great time. On the other hand, it’s really hard to review or critique something that’s not only a book but also a minor cultural phenomenon, with the latter part being rather essential. You cannot talk about recommending or not recommending an experience that is unlikely to repeat for others to take part in, or at least not at such scale. But I had to write something for goodreads to mark it as read, and, well, turns out I have a lot to say.

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Mini Reviews: Agents of Winter, Yellow Jessamine, The Keeper’s Six, Kundo Wakes Up

Once again, it’s time for a quartet of mini reviews. This time, I liked three out of four books and felt meh on one of them, which is really not a bad ratio given how some of those roundup posts tend to go. Three novellas, one short novel, three SFF books, one not. I see a pattern here. I also admit I bought the last novella, Kundo Wakes Up, solely because I like to have four books before I post and I wasn’t willing to wait until I either DNF’d something or stumbled into a novella randomly again, but given that 1) I had planned to read it since release and 2) I liked it, this is not at all a bad thing.

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Review: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

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I’ve been disappointed by so many highly anticipated books with amazing premises this year that it made me a little wary of starting another. Even if it seemed almost tailor-made for me. But this was luckily the real deal. I loved it. From the first chapter on, I absolutely loved it. From the language geekery, to the brutal takedown of British colonialism and the fact that I kept being pulled back to it whenever I put it down, it completely lived up to the hype for me.

He hated this place. He loved it. He resented how it treated him. He still wanted to be a part of it – because it felt so good to be a part of it, to speak to its professors as an intellectual equal, to be in on the great game.

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Review: Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman

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I loved The Breath of the Sun and its prose so much the author landed on my auto-buy list. How could I not try Dead Collections as soon as I could get my hands on it? Especially with this gorgeous cover, especially when the premise is “trans archivist vampire”? Luckily, it was very much not another highly anticipated disappointment, but delivered exactly what I wanted – quiet, messily queer literary fantasy with excellent prose.

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Mini Reviews: Penric’s Travels, His Quiet Agent, Od Magic, All the Horses of Iceland

The December binge combined with the spell of fatigue that lasted most of January and left me unable to do much (I’m better now, I think) mean that I’ve been left with quite the review backlog. This is not all of them yet, not quite, but it’s a start – and best of all, this time they are not DNFs, but books I quite liked. Every single one of them.

Now, onto the reviews themselves!

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Review: A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

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You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from. I say you are the smoke-wisp memory of a flame, thawing ice suffering under an early spring sun, a chalk ledger of debts being wiped clean.

I say you do not have a name.

After two DNFs in a row threatening to push me into a slump, and a general over a month long streak of mostly unsatisfying reads, I needed something good. And short. At barely over novella length, dark, and beautifully written, A Dowry of Blood, luckily, turned out to be the perfect recommendation.

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Review: Arcane (s01)

We lost ourselves. Lost our dream. In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good.

I don’t generally make a habit of reviewing tv shows – I watch few enough, only a handful of them SFF, and I finish even fewer. But ArcaneArcane deserves an exception. That a videogame tie-in animated series, and one for a game I’ll never play or care about, would have turned out to be one of the best-written things of the year was not on anyone’s bingo card, but it sure is a welcome surprise regardless.

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Review: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, Adrian (ebook)

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I knew I needed this pretty much as soon as I heard what was it about, doubly so when I saw the cover. And after a long string of sub-par reads, a book that actually lived up to its promise was more than welcome.

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Review: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

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No one wants to be a real hero; it’s too hard. My husband didn’t give a damn whether the work I was doing was noble as long as it appeared to be. When I killed someone then—something I did a lot more than I do now—it was for the greater good. It was such bullshit.

I’ve never much liked or cared about superheroes – what’s some asshole in a cape? Despite my friends’ gushing, I didn’t put Hench on my radar until there was a sale, and….wait. Mundane job? Spreadsheets? Fuck me, I’m in. I’ve always had enough of a hard-on for bureaucracy and other usually boring shit in books to override subgenre preferences and sure enough, it was exactly my thing. The characters’ low opinion of superheroes was the final cherry on top.

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Review: The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

Amazon.com: The Light Between Worlds: 9780062696878: Weymouth, Laura E:  Books

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And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.

This is one of my favourite finds this year.

Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.

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